Apple “gets it”

As I write this post, I'm watching the October 14 Mac Keynote. You can watch it here. The first section, the State of the Mac, of the keynote is about why Mac is growing at such rapid pace (in the market). The presenter, in this section, talked the four or five essential qualities of a Mac that make it amazing. As I watched it, I thought, "I already know all this." Probably, most everyone watching the keynote knew all of the presenter's points. But that didn't matter. The presenter evangelized the same story, because that's the story that success for Apple. They never tire of talking about what makes them different, unique, remarkable, and worth switching to.

What makes you unique? Don't stop talking about it.

PS Steve Jobs is actually doing a better job sharing. Each time I see a keynote, Jobs speaks less and other Apple leaders speak more. Maybe Jobs is "getting it" too.

Apple “gets it”2008-10-23T07:12:47+00:00

Know-how isn’t enough

Yesterday I stood behind a guy at Starbucks who was talking on the phone. I wasn't eavesdropping because he was talking loud enough for the entire store to join in. The conversation he was having (with the person on the other end of the phone and all of us in the store) was about repositioning employees for a new work initiative.

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Guy on phone: Well of course there's Frank. I mean when it comes to skill, he's a black belt (referring to six sigma) and the best we've got. But, you know how he is in a meeting. I've just seen him fly off the handle to many times.
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There, in one 10 second comment, went Frank's chances on the new team.

Simple reality: Know how is not enough.

If we are a pain to deal with, the best skill level in the world can eventually come up short. The way we interact matters. By now, most of us know this, but it doesn't change the fact that many people still limit their opportunities because they can't get along with others.

What's even worse, is when the one who can't get along is the leader of the team, department or organization. Leaders cannot excuse themselves from the same behavioral standards they expect to see in others. The danger is this: the more "senior" the leader becomes, the easier it is to excuse bad behavior as "necessary" because of the demands of the job (or some other lame excuse).

The other trouble here is that senior leaders have fewer people scrutinizing their behavior (like the guy in the Starbucks was doing). So we have a double whammy: 1) leaders give themselves too many passes, 2) fewer people scrutinize leader behavior because they are afraid of the leader or believe it's not appropriate to do so. That's not a good combination.

This is why leaders need courage to listen, and sensitivity to create the space where feedback can be given.

These are tricky waters, no doubt. Leaders can basically stonewall feedback, on the one hand. On the other hand, leaders can be so open to feedback that they have no leadership of their own. It's not easy to find the integration point between the two. However, it is important to try.

What would it take for you to be more open to and receiving of feedback about your leadership?

Know-how isn’t enough2008-10-17T06:58:21+00:00

Pro-active leadership–Words Matter

As we continue to look at proactive leadership, let's think about the importance of articulating what you see. Vision is the ability to see what's happening in the present (total) moment and see how energy could enhance, alter or change that moment for the better. The ability "to see" is essential to proactive leadership. It, however, is not enough.

As vision emerges, it's important that leaders put verbiage to the possibilities and opportunities they see. This is both important and dangerous. Words can inspire and give initial energy to vision. However, they can also limit and "fence in" a vision in a way that domesticates the possibility. The trick for a leader is to speak in a way that ignites energy for the opportunity while conveying the vision is not static and requires all people involved to lend their own vision and passion.

In other words, words matter in the pursuit of vision.

When crafting your visionary words, make them:

Invitational
Discovery-centered
Inspirational
Concrete
Possibility oriented

Words put color to the canvas. In that way, the leader is an artist. Use your best energies to articulate what you see and then encourage others to join you in that articulation process. Talk together, really talk together about the emerging possibilities and you will draw both passion and action out of those around you.

Of course, meaningful conversation is not enough.

Stay tuned...

Pro-active leadership–Words Matter2008-10-16T07:20:35+00:00

Proactive Leadership–more on the idea

A couple of posts ago I began thinking about proactive leadership. Here's a possible framework for the idea:

See
Articulate
Design
Execute
Adapt
Have fun (along the way)

Proactive leadership is not a set of techniques. I hesitated to lay the words out as I did because I didn't want to make it feel like a step by step process. It's more like a stew--all the ingredients mixed together all the time. Yes, you can see them (each one individually), but they are best when used together.

It is, however, also possible to see the list of words as a linear process that moves strategic possibilities along. Perhaps having both a linear and non linear view (simultaneously) is the best way to view the qualities of proactive leadership. In the next few posts, we'll consider each idea. I already talked a bit about vision. So, the next posting will begin with the need for meaningful articulation of strategic opportunity.

Proactive Leadership–more on the idea2008-10-13T06:30:23+00:00

Job stress is about more than the job

I saw this story about job stress on MSN this morning. The story outlines the highest stressed jobs out there in the world of jobs. The trouble with the article is that it measures the stress of the job based on the job not the people in the jobs. To be fair, here are the criteria used to measure the stress:

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, occupational stress originates from a variety of issues, including:

- Long hours with few or no breaks

- Employees unable to participate in the decision-making process

- Job insecurity and large amounts of impending change

- Physical danger

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I agree that the above "stressors" play a role in the stress of an employee, no doubt. Yet, over time, I've also noticed that the employee herself has a lot to do with how stress is handled. I now believe that we all "metabolize" our jobs in different ways. Just like our bodies differ in the ability to metabolize food, so our minds and hearts metabolize work (and the stressors of work) in different ways. A seeminly easy job may throw one person over the edge, based not on the job, but on the person (and vica versa).

There are numerous applications to the idea of one's job/stress metabolizing skill--from the interview process to the development process to the evaluation process (not to mention coaching).

Perhaps we need to develop a metaboloism quotient with regards to job stress and effectivenss. It might be easier, wtih such a tool, to determine just how we all "digest" our work, and its stressors.

Job stress is about more than the job2008-10-12T06:26:23+00:00

Been busy…I’m back

I've not blogged in a while. I've been busy and it got away from me. Not a good reason...but I'm back.

Been busy…I’m back2008-10-07T11:16:07+00:00

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Written by Dave Fleming